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    Witness for Wildlife - Citizen Naturalists Working to Defend Critical Habitat

    Corridor1 John Muir said it was wise to “….break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”

    He was a witness of wild things and wild lands, so precise and relentless in his testimony that when he spoke to Teddy Roosevelt about an area he loved high in the Sierra Nevada, the president listened and Yosemite National Park was born.

    Now it’s your turn. Witness for Wildlife (W4W) is a new initiative from the Freedom to Roam Coalition. The Coalition is dedicated to connecting and preserving corridors for animals (and people) so they can safely move between protected areas. W4W inspires trips into the wildlife corridors of the continent, for people to hike, climb, paddle and camp, to witness the wonders of the wildlands and the importance of connected habitat.

    You can join a growing community of Witness for Wildlife citizen naturalists, to share stories, images, and video from your trips, and learn how to take action to protect critical corridors.
    Patagonia has created a site for you to explore Witness for Wildlife trips. Last summer, we partnered with some great conservation groups who traveled into several wildlife corridors. Read about the threat of bark beetle kill in the mountains of Colorado and about bighorn sheep in the Nevada desert. Let these trips inspire you! And if you are already out there, witnessing, enjoying and protecting the wild world, we invite you to join the efforts of Witness for Wildlife by becoming a "Citizen Naturalists" and sharing your stories.

    [Top - A citizen naturalist tries to get the lay of the land during an inaugural Witness for Wildlife trip to study the impact of proposed development on this area of bighorn sheep migration. Photo: Ron Hunter. Left - Desert bighorn sheep Photo: Lynn B. Starnes/ US Fish and Wildlife Service]

    The Tin Shed Gets Tuned Up for Spring

    Tin Shed S10 We’re sliding open the doors to the Shed and sweeping it clean this spring. Tune into the season with a fresh batch of stories from our friends and ambassadors out in the wild – in videos, audio and written word. And don’t worry, just like our favorite winter sweaters, we’ve found a place to stash all the cool-weather stories – you’ll find all of them in the Tin Shed archives by clicking "View All Stories" in the top right corner of the Shed.

    Here's a taste of what you'll find this spring:

    Border Country
    Jeremy Collins and Mikey Schaefer had been planning a new route on Yosemite Valley’s Middle Cathedral when they learned of the deaths of their good friends and fellow climbers, Jonny Copp and Micah Dash. Collins said, “They showed us to never give up, to go light, to go bold, and always live with passion.” He and Schaefer sent the route in their honor.

    Mongo Metal Pirates

    In Mongo Fly ’08, Mikey Wier takes us to remote Mongolian rivers in search of the massive taimen. Check out the trailer for Metalheadz, a new video from AEG Media on steelhead fishing in the Pacific Northwest. And see an excerpt from the ESPN series Pirates of the Flats featuring Yvon Chouinard and Bill Klyn pursuing bonefish in the Bahamas.

    Freedom to Roam and Awakening the Skeena

    Freedom to Roam portrays a long-term initiative dedicated to establishing migration wildways in the Americas and elsewhere for animals now threatened by global warming. In Awakening the Skeena, a young woman swims the length of a cold northern river to inspire communities in its watershed to come to its defense.

    Jeff Denholm: Ocean Calling

    A twist of fate changed Jeff Denholm’s life in the mid-90s, but his competitive drive hasn’t diminished. Watch as he trains for, and competes in, his first Moloka’I Challenge – the 32-mile race that’s considered paddleboarding’s unofficial world championship.

    The Simplest Solution

    After seeing a wiry Nepali porter carry a 100 lb load with the aid of a tumpline, Yvon Chouinard followed suit and strapped one over his head to relieve the strain of his heavy pack on his injured neck. Following that discovery, Yvon said, “I learned to try to find a simple solution first, rather than a techno-fix.”

    Patagonia Surfers in Indonesia

    Gerry Lopez, Wayne Lynch, Liz Clark, and Dan, Keith and Chris Malloy set out with Fletcher Chouinard on the Makimba to test his new boards in Indonesia’s Mentawai Islands off the coast of Sumatra.

    Northern Alps Traverse

    In August 2009, Maxime Turgeon set off on his bike and pedaled up the high mountain passes of the northern Alps in search of classic climbs to solo. After three weeks, six peaks, 770 miles of cycling, and over 42,000 feet of elevation gain, he dove into the Mediterranean Sea at the end of this human-powered journey.

    24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell

    Team of two take on the steep, gritty sandstone near Jasper, Arkansas, during a 24-hour climbing competition. Patagonia ambassadors Brittany Griffith and Kate Rutherford team up to show the boys some sass. The self-proclaimed alpinistos gordos, Colin Haley and Mikey Schaefer, used the marathon competition to jump-start their training.

    Drop by the Shed to feed your roots with classic tales, check out fresh footage from the cutting edge, and maybe find yourself a sweet deal on your next Patagonia purchase. Thanks for tuning in!

    Backyard Corridors: What animals do you no longer see in your area?

    Mtnlion A while back, one of the local news outlets ran a story: “Dad Jumps Between Mountain Lion, Son.” The story was picked up by CNN and went national in just under 24 hours.

    In that story we were introduced to a man who had recently moved his family to northwestern Nevada and purchased a home on the raw edge of a rapidly expanding town near some sizable - but diminishing - pieces of mountain lion habitat. We learned from the story that these folks, like many who move here, were eager to live in a land where unmediated encounters with nature are possible. The reality of such an encounter was not quite what they had imagined.

    Listening to the man in the news report describe that lion was like listening to myself from 15 years ago. I moved here with a similar enthusiasm for the big, wild land around this area. Back then, I was drunk on visions of Wild America and under the spell of an early visit to Reno - when I watched a herd of 60+ mule deer grazing on mountain slopes within the city limits. I would have believed the edge of town marked the naked frontier. To a kid from the East Coast, this was big, majestic nature, and I wanted to be closer to it. Little did I know that in moving here I would be playing a part in the growth that would eventually swallow the prime over-wintering grounds that the majestic herd of mule deer depended upon for survival.

    [Mountain lion photo courtesy of Chino Hills State Park website]

    Continue reading "Backyard Corridors: What animals do you no longer see in your area?" »

    Backyard Corridors: Which animals in your area might need to move through corridors to survive?

    Moose_jer_collins Like a majestic pack of finger-clicking primates roaming the wilds of the Internet, our migration through the Backyard Corridors series is almost complete. Thank you one and all for sharing your thoughts with us and helping to paint a better picture of local-scale corridor issues. This week's question:

    Which animals in your area might need to move through corridors to survive?

    Sue Halpern kicks things off with a story about her area of Vermont and how the Forest Service has put up new “corridor” signs and speed reductions on local highways. [Illustration: Jeremy Collins]

    It was about three in the afternoon when the dog, sleeping soundly on a shaft of sunlight projected onto the living room floor, stood up abruptly, tail aloft, and started barking. Normally she is a quiet animal, not given to verbal outbursts unless she hears the word “ski.” But this was late summer. I followed the dog to the window that frames our meadow. The meadow is long-standing. It appears on maps dating back more than a century, an island of tall grass and wildflowers surrounded on all sides by an expansive ocean of trees. The dog pointed, I looked out, and there, not more than fifty feet from the house, were two moose, one big, the other slightly less big – a mother and child – ambling across the field. If they were rattled by the sound of a barking dog, they didn’t show it. In fact, they stopped, opposite the window, and looked our way, and waited. These were photo-op moose. They weren’t going anywhere. They looked at us, we looked at them until finally the dog got bored and lay back down on her sunny blanket. The moose nosed around in the grass, then started walking slowly to the back of the field where they disappeared into the woods, in the direction of our nearest neighbors. I called them up. “Two moose are coming your way,” I said. But the moose must have taken a detour. They didn’t show up at the neighbors’ for a month.

    Continue reading "Backyard Corridors: Which animals in your area might need to move through corridors to survive? " »

    Backyard Corridors: Do you see evidence of climate change affecting animals in your area?

    Pika-WilliamCGladishWhile humans debate the degree, extent and (still) the mere existence of climate change, scores of species are left to deal with its realities. We don't all live at the seething edge of a major wildlife migration route, but many of us have observed subtle changes in the behaviors of the animals that live (or used to live) in our Backyard Corridors. In these changes lies a message; thus our question for this week: 

    Do you see evidence of climate change affecting animals in your area?

    Please share your observations in the comments on our blog, The Cleanest Line, or on Patagonia’s Facebook page. Author and wildlife biologist Douglas Chadwick offers this take on some of the changes taking place in his back yard as a result of global warming:

    Rationalization is an overwhelming human force. Once you form opinions, your mind works overtime, often subtly and even subconsciously, to select information that supports your biases while ignoring or purposefully giving less weight to observations that threaten to prove you wrong. Hey, I think I just described the cult of Climate Change Denial. But that wasn't the point I wanted to make. In fact, I set out to admit that I'm probably biased the opposite way, believing that climate change is happening. I'm pretty sure that global warming is real and potentially devastating to the ecosystems we know and depend upon. Consequently, I'm that much more likely to interpret what could be ordinary variation in weather cycles and wildlife activity as evidence of an overheating planet. I find myself in a constant struggle to tell hints and hunches and unusual sightings -- anecdotal stuff -- apart from the kind of solid information that someone could test and verify.

    I'm a wildlife biologist, but I'm not trying to play the cautious scientist here. I'm just trying to be honest. So I'm not going to tell you that what I report below is due to climate change, only that it sure looks like it might be. After all, I live in the Montana Rockies and spend most of my outdoor time in nearby Glacier National Park, home to 150 glaciers when founded in 1910. The reserve now has no more than a couple dozen and is expected to lose its last one within the next 15 years or so. Having watched great, grinding landforms of ice blue as lapis lazuli shrink in a relatively short time to pieces that barely qualify as dirty snowfields, I'm not too sympathetic to arguments that climate change is strictly tree-hugger propaganda.

    [Photo: From The Wilderness Society website, A pika, which is a species threatened by global warming, in the wild. Photo by William C. Gladish]

    Continue reading "Backyard Corridors: Do you see evidence of climate change affecting animals in your area?" »

    Backyard Corridors: Does Your Area Have Any Wildlife Corridors?

    Buffalo_2 Freedom to Roam wants to preserve and protect big wildways for large animals. The "preserve" part of that statement reminds us that wildlife corridors exist already and that leads into our question this week:

    Does your area have any wildlife corridors?

    We'd love to hear from you on our blog, The Cleanest Line, or on Patagonia’s Facebook page.

    Building and maintaining corridors often requires a lot of creative thinking as bestselling author Ted Kerasote reminds us. [All photos: Ted Kerasote]

    Rethinking The Fence

    I’ve always likened the ninety-person village in which I live to a rock in a river. Kelly faces the Tetons, between Grand Teton National Park, the National Elk Refuge, and the Gros Ventre Wilderness. We split the currents of elk and moose, deer and bison, antelope and wolves, lions and coyotes and bears.

    Continue reading "Backyard Corridors: Does Your Area Have Any Wildlife Corridors? " »

    Backyard Corridors: What has been done in your area to enable wild animals to move around?

    Bucky-fence Employees at our Dillon outlet store gained some “Freedom to Roam” last summer when Patagonia funded an environmental internship for store staff. Outlet employees chose to work with American Wildlands (AWL), a Bozeman-based non-profit that works in Montana to identify and prioritize wildlife corridors. Donning leather boots and gloves, they headed to the Centennial Valley, where, literally, the deer and the antelope play.

    The Centennial stretches over 380,000 acres north and east of the Continental Divide and is a crucial migration corridor for grizzly bear, pronghorn and other migratory land animals, along with hundreds of bird species. Armed with fencing pliers, outlet staff removed miles of barbed wire from the bottoms of livestock fencing. They installed smooth wire as a replacement, or modified the distance between strands to accommodate more frequent and widespread wildlife crossings at identified corridors.

    “Unlike typical field work in my life, this has an immediate positive impact,” said store merchandiser, Bucky Ballou. “What we did in one day impacted migratory animals the next day . . . [It's] instant gratification.”

    [Patagonia Dillon's Bucky Ballou rolling removed barbed wire. Photo: Pam Neumeyer

    Continue reading "Backyard Corridors: What has been done in your area to enable wild animals to move around?" »

    Backyard Corridors: What obstructs animal movement in your neighborhood?

    DSCN8281 When we talk about Freedom to Roam it's impossible to make an argument for wildlife corridors without mentioning the obstacles that block an animal's ability to go where it has to go in order to survive. The obstructions we often cite include housing sprawl, energy and resource extraction, population growth, expanding urban areas, and highways and freeways – pretty large scale stuff. On the Backyard Corridor level however there are a myriad of smaller obstacles that must be taken into account as well. Hence, this week's question:

    What obstructs animal movement in your neighborhood?

    Please share your observations in the comments on our blog, The Cleanest Line, or on Patagonia’s Facebook page. Unfortunately, the stories about these obstacles typically aren't pretty, as Martha Sherrill illustrates below. [Wildlife corridor sign in Central Park, New York. Photo: Tom Skeele] 

    Turtle Blues
    by Martha Sherrill

    I’m not sure when the turtle discovered our vernal pond. One day I noticed his head sticking out of the water – slim, pointy, a completely different shape from all the frogs’ broad heads.

    He panicked easily, was shyer than the frogs. For a month or two, he spent his days basking in the sun on a mud island in the middle of the pond. He was yards away, protected by water, but if I moved toward the pond’s edge, he plunged in with a loud splash. Ker-plunk. I began watching him through binoculars from the kitchen window instead.

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    Backyard Corridors: What migratory animals come through your area?

    2 yard I like to start the day in my backyard hot tub, sipping on a cup of strong coffee and soothing sore muscles. It's a great way to ease in. There's also an added benefit. Spending a half hour outside each morning, sitting quietly in one place, provides an opportunity to observe the ever-changing rhythms of nature - among them animal migration.

    [Backyard view from the tub. All photos by Jim]

    My home is in Ojai, a small town in a small inland valley in Southern California, where most of the migratory animals are birds. Orioles are among the splashier visitors, and therefore hardest to miss. Every spring, when a pair of hooded orioles arrive from their wintering grounds in Mexico for the summer breeding season, I reconnect with the wonders of migration.

    Continue reading "Backyard Corridors: What migratory animals come through your area?" »

    Backyard Corridors: What is the largest, wild land animal living in your area?

    Bobcat IMG_0843_2 Thanks to everyone who's shared their Backyard Corridors stories with us so far. We're going big with this week's question.

    What is the largest, wild land animal living in your area?

    Please share your answer, and any stories you may have about that animal, in the comments on our blog, The Cleanest Line, or on Patagonia’s Facebook page. We'd love to hear from you. Here's Pat Cole from New Mexico to get things started.

    Bobcats in the Backyard
    Story and photo by Pat Cole

    We moved from urban Kansas City to the high desert of New Mexico in 2001. Because our house is very near a 44,000 acre ranch surrounded by mountains, we have a lot of wildlife to watch, photograph and enjoy: deer, antelope, fox, coyote and, though we haven’t seen them, even a mountain lion and bear have passed through the neighborhood.

    Continue reading "Backyard Corridors: What is the largest, wild land animal living in your area? " »

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